Ruth Jean Pullum
July 28, 1921 – March 21, 2020
Ruth Jean Norton Pullum died peacefully in her sleep in Pflugerville, Texas, at age 98, on March 21, 2020. She had a full life and was much loved.
She was born on July 28, 1921, in Ogden Utah. Her mother was Jessie Varley Norton, an immigrant from Yorkshire, England, and her father was Thomas William Norton, who migrated westward from Missouri. She had a very difficult life during the Great Depression, especially after her father died in 1934. In 1940 she married William Fredrick Pullum, Jr., a childhood neighbor. The first years of their marriage were shaped by World War II and Bill’s military service during its full duration.
Ruth and Bill had three children in Ogden: Thomas William (Tom), Robert Edward (Bob), and Margaret Ann (Peggy). In 1951 the family moved to Eugene, Oregon, for four years while Bill attended Northwest Christian College, and then to Tracy, California, for two years. In 1957 the family moved to Stockton, California, where Bill and Ruth remained until 1984. Ruth graduated from the University of the Pacific and taught elementary school in Stockton for more than 20 years. She loved teaching and often said she would do it even if she were not paid. She and Bill had a small preschool that Peggy managed for several years. They lived on Maui for two years before coming to Austin in 1986.
Ruth is survived by sons Tom (Silver Spring, Maryland) and Bob (Mountain View, Hawaii); and by grandchildren Willow Hemphill (Pflugerville), Sara Pullum-Pinon (Forest Grove, Oregon), Eva Campbell (Mountain View, Hawaii), and twins Ruth Pullum and William Pullum (Silver Spring, Maryland). Her daughter Peggy died in 2017 and her granddaughter Jessie died in 1995. She had five great-grandchildren: Thomas, James, Anne, Henry, and Catherine, and two step great-grandchildren, Lea and Koa. She is also survived by daughters-in-law Anastasia Gerakari Pullum and Donna Dunlap-Pullum. Her former daughter-in-law, Starling Goodyear Pullum, died in 2019.
Her two brothers and sister—Howard, Charles, and Virginia—predeceased her, but she is survived by several nieces and nephews. She much appreciated continuing contact with Joan, Debbie, and Sandi. Ruth had a beautiful singing voice and had a great memory for popular music of the 1930s and 40s and traditional hymns. She wrote poems, many with a wry humor. She was always busy, mostly in ways that benefitted other people. She had been extremely close to her own mother and followed her with an endless succession of sewing, knitting, and crocheting projects. She sewed several identical sets of clothing for Jessie, Willow, and Sara while they were children, including matching outfits for their dolls. A generation later, she did the same for William and Ruthie. She knitted countless baby blankets for donations through her church while in her 80s.
Ruth and Bill had 70 loving years of marriage. During their retirement years in Austin they enjoyed square dancing, bowling leagues, neighborhood parties, and church activities. After Bill died in 2011, Ruth and Peggy and Willow moved to Pflugerville. Ruth lived independently until she began to need increasing levels of physical assistance. Peggy was the main caregiver until her own death, and Willow provided loving care until the end came.
Ruth outlived her husband, her daughter, and her friends, but she retained her memories, her sense of self, her inquiring mind, and her love for her family until the end of her life. She will always be a source of admiration, motivation, respect, and love for those she leaves behind.